Automotive Star Power
Amid a galaxy of luxury cars, the 1958 Cadillac Eldorado Brougham was a brilliant shooting star. The company only produced 304 in 1958, the second and final year of the line’s manufacture. But the car’s space-age style and advanced engineering made the Eldorado a household name despite a cost astronomical for the average suburban family.
Cadillac pioneered an X-frame body design for the Eldorado to support its simultaneous introduction of an innovative, self-leveling air suspension, replacing the springs that came before.
Under the hood, this new suspension system combined with the car’s V8 engine, new, low-profile tires, and reduced center of gravity to elevate the Eldorado’s control, comfort, and speed while driving — a functional achievement befitting the ultra-modern exterior.
Priced at $13,074 — $118,270 today — the hardtop with its rear-hinged door design was the cost of a new, middle-class home. But authentically advanced technology, modern comfort, and stylish stainless steel details more than justified the price tag for buyers.
The Eldorado’s enduring star power (Frank Sinatra was a fan) further cemented Cadillac’s legacy as the arbiter of high-end automotive design and performance.
The car’s grand promise was realized writ small in the glovebox vanity set provided to passengers. A magnetic tray prevented spills from four metal drink tumblers, and an atomizer — similarly designed to be spill-proof by the French fashion concern House of Lanvin — helped conserve the single ounce of Arpège perfume it held while on the road.
Space Age Convenience
The power operation offered by the Eldorado Brougham was revelatory, owners having a sense of holding the key to technology not entirely removed from that rocketing the country into space.
Switches in the rear doors prevented the car from starting if any were open. Headlights transitioned to low beams if a light-sensing ‘eye’ detected an oncoming vehicle. And both a central locking system and trunk lid could be operated remotely at the push of a button.
Air conditioning, a heating system with under-seat blowers, and a six-position, programmable driver’s seat were also standard features.
1958 Cadillac Eldorado Brougham Specs:
- 365 cubic inch, overhead valve, V-8 engine
- 335 hp
- Four-speed Hydra-Matic transmission
- Four-wheel hydraulic power drum brakes
- 126-inch wheelbase
- Glove box vanity set
- Cross pencil, notebook, and mirror in rear passenger compartment
- Originally priced at $13,074